The worst ads of 2018

A Dolce & Gabbana ad campaign showed a model eating traditional Italian food with chopsticks.

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A Dolce & Gabbana ad campaign showed a model eating traditional Italian food with chopsticks.
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Dolce & Gabbana/Instagram

Whether because of tone-deaf tweets or ads with racist or sexist undertones, every year, some brands end up with egg on their faces.

In 2018, it was impossible to let some of these glaring gaffes slide. Here are some of the most cringe-inducing ads that caught our eye this year, in order of bad to worst. Check out the year’s best ads here.


Wendy’s, Doritos and Tide (Grade: C-)

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Wendy’s

Brands seizing blackouts as their moment to shine is so 2013, but Wendy’s, Doritos and Tide didn’t seem to have realized that. They were among the thirsty brands that tried to recreate Oreo’s real-time “dunk in the dark” moment by tweeting during a short blackout in the second quarter of Super Bowl 2018. Zero points for originality.


Bud Light’s “Bud Knight” (Grade: C-)

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Bud Light

Once your branding campaign hits cultural meme status, it’s time to quit. But Bud Light didn’t know when to stop with “Dilly Dilly,” which went from endearing cultural phenomenon to an annoyance. Also, nothing screams desperate like hijacking “Game of Thrones” with an icy “Bud Knight” taking on a fiery dragon.


Kleenex’s “Mansize” Tissues (Grade: D)

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Kleenex

Kleenex has had its extra-large “Mansize” tissues around since the 1950s. But in 2018, the term sounded too gendered to some. Kleenex scrapped its range of “Mansize” tissues this year, following social media complaints that the branding was sexist.


Heineken’s “Lighter is Better” (Grade: F)

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Heineken

Heineken’s ads with the tagline “Lighter Is Better” were supposed to tout its light beer. But the ads came across as racist to social media users including Chance the Rapper, and were eventually pulled.


Dolce & Gabbana ‘s “#DGlovesChina” (Grade: F)

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A Dolce & Gabbana campaign showed a model eating Italian food with chopsticks.
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Dolce & Gabbana/Instagram

The luxury brand prompted an online furor in November with a marketing campaign aimed at China that was full of ethnic stereotypes. One ad showed a Chinese model attempting – and failing – to eat various Italian dishes with chopsticks. Things got worse when the Instagram account Diet Prada exposed Dolce founder Stefano​ Gabbana appearing to engage in more racist rants. Soon, the hashtag #BoycottDolce was trending on Chinese social media site Weibo and Gabbana and his co-founder Domanico Dolce apologized and had to cancel their Shanghai runway show, costing them millions.

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#DGlovesChina ? More like #DGdesperateforthatChineseRMB lol.  In a bid to further appeal to luxury's covetable Chinese consumers, @dolcegabbana released some hella offensive “instructional” videos on the usage of chopsticks.  Pandering at it's finest, but taken up a notch by painting their target demographic as a tired and false stereotype of a people lacking refinement/culture to understand how to eat foreign foods and an over-the-top embellishment of cliché ambient music, comical pronunciations of foreign names/words, and Chinese subtitles (English added by us), which begs the question—who is this video actually for?  It attempts to target China, but instead mocks them with a parodied vision of what modern China is not…a gag for amusement. Dolce & Gabbana have already removed the videos from their Chinese social media channels, but not Instagram.  Stefano Gabbana has been on a much-needed social media cleanse (up until November 2nd), so maybe he kept himself busy by meddling with the marketing department for this series. Who wants to bet the XL cannoli “size” innuendos were his idea? Lmao. • #dolceandgabbana #altamoda #rtw #dgmillennials #stefanogabbana #shanghai #chinese #italian #cannoli #meme #wtf #dumb #lame #chopsticks #foodie #tutorial #cuisine #italianfood #asianmodel #asian #chinesefood #dietprada

A post shared by Diet Prada ™ (@diet_prada) on


Dodge Ram’s “Built to Serve” (Grade: F-)

Dodge Ram’s Super Bowl ad featuring part of a speech by Martin Luther King Jr. sparked widespread criticism online almost as soon as it aired. The ad, which showed workers and shots of Ram trucks set against a 1968 speech by King, was slammed for its use of an iconic civil-rights speech and Black History Month to sell cars.


H&M’s “Coolest monkey in the jungle” (Grade: F-)

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H&M

H&M landed in hot water at the start of the year, when it featured an ad with a black child wearing a hoodie bearing the slogan “coolest monkey in the jungle.” The image went viral, and was slammed on social media, including by The Weeknd, who announced on Twitter that he would no longer be affiliated with the brand. H&M later apologized.